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Alberta’s Fox Creek area has experienced an increasing number of earthquakes since December 2013 that have possibly been associated with hydraulic fracturing operations. 

While there have been no known impacts to the public, nearby infrastructure, or the environment, we want to help ensure the safe, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of energy resources. For this reason, we have monitoring and reporting requirements in place for hydraulic fracturing operators in the area.

Our Requirements

Before operating, companies drilling within the Duvernay Zone in the Fox Creek area must assess the potential for earthquakes caused by, or resulting from, hydraulic fracturing. A company must be prepared to implement a response plan if an earthquake is detected.

Companies in the area must comply with Subsurface Order No. 2, which imposes seismic monitoring and reporting requirements in the zone. The order specifies that companies conducting hydraulic fracturing operations in this zone must monitor seismic activity within 5 kilometres of their wells during operations.

We also have a number of requirements in place to protect subsurface and wellbore integrity during hydraulic fracturing. Directive 083: Hydraulic Fracturing – Subsurface Integrity addresses the hydraulic fracturing risk to subsurface well integrity.

Ranking System

Companies operating in Fox Creek must follow a “traffic light” system to monitor for seismic activity.

  • Seismic event of less than 2.0 local magnitude (ML): no action is required by the operator.
  • Seismic event of 2.0 MLor greater: the operator must immediately report the event to the AER and implement their response plan.
  • Seismic event of 4.0 ML or greater: the operator must immediately cease operations and report it to us. They cannot resume operations without our approval.

What It Feels Like

Current research suggests that a seismic event in Fox Creek with a magnitude of less than 3–4 magnitude (ML could feel like vibrations of a passing truck and may not be noticed. An event with a magnitude of 4–5 ML could have more noticeable effects in terms of sound, vibrations, and overturning of unstable objects. The actual effect depends on ground conditions. 

Follow Our Updates

Albertans should know when we detect earthquakes. When we detect seismic activity in the Fox Creek, we update this page for your awareness.

Events that register a significant magnitude (4.0 or greater) are also included on our Compliance Dashboard.

Further information can be found using our Alberta Interactive Seismic Events Map.